Christ's Birth Brought a Truce

The Christmas truce of 1914 as detailed in a thought provoking article (read here) featured on Veterans Today touches on a few topics that are near and dear to my heart:

  • The morality of national and military leadership
  • Justifications for war
  • The role of media during wartime
  • The power of faith to bring about reconciliation 

    “…during the Christmas season of 1914 … the soldiers themselves called a truce and, had it not been for intervention by the higher authorities on both sides, World War I might have ended…[BUT] Steps were taken to preclude further Christmas truces.”

    WWI hostilities continued until 1918 because leaders apparently were not open to a peaceful way forward in 1914. I wonder how many lives the 1953 ceasefire in Korea saved because the leaders in that conflict were willing to stop fighting?

    “… There were visits directly to the trenches by high-ranking officers, even generals. From the German side came a report that the men were redressed by an officer who ordered the men in the foulest of language to start shooting, saying, “Fire, or we do — and not at the enemy!” The men in this case reportedly spent that day and the next firing their rifles, but deliberately firing above the opposing troops… “

    Our nation can only harness the maximum capabilities of our most effective combat system, the Soldier, if he really believes in the cause for which he is fighting. Our causes must be just.

    “…the military leaders tried to keep the news of the truce from spreading. Despite these efforts at truth suppression, word of the truce did leak out…though not in time to maintain the truce and allow for analytical minds to assess the necessity of the war. … This was a case of information control over military information for political purposes to keep the people from learning that a significant portion of a war had come to halt on its own…”

    Undoubtedly, a free press in the warzone carries great risks to the military’s operational security. However, this example in WWI highlights the valuable role the media plays in keeping the military accountable to their civilian masters and politicians to their electorate.

    “…In 1999, the Christmas Truce of 1914 was commemorated by a small group of re-enactors who, after spending a few nights in makeshift trenches in the area near Ploegstreert Wood, left behind a wooden cross. That wooden cross has since been fortified with a cement base by some of the local people and now stands as the only monument to the Christmas truce of 1914. This is a sad ommentary on how governments build many monuments supposedly to honor military veterans, but somehow seem to do so in ways that glorify war. Perhaps there will be a 100th anniversary reenactment in 2014. I would like to suggest that a fitting monument would be that of three soldiers in German, British, and French uniforms of that era bearing gifts of tobacco, chocolate, and sausages — a modern reference to the wise men who visited the Christ child bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. “

    There is no glory in war, that’s for sure. Any nation would do well to try goodwill and forgiveness many, many more times over aggression.

  • Enjoy this video clip from YouTube.

    (cross posted at blogspot.com)